ISLAMABAD: Aerial surveillance drones manufactured in the United States are being deployed by India against Pakistan for surveillance along the Line of Control in Poonch and Rajouri Sectors of Indian-held Kashmir, according to sources.
The data centre of these drones has been established in Srinagar for monitoring, processing and disseminating data to deployed troops, a source familiar with the development said. “The US is refusing to supply the same drone to Pakistan for deployment along LoC,” the source added.
India’s drone inventory currently comprises mostly surveillance-only models made by Israel but with the acquisition of armed drones India could be more likely to strike in Pakistan to retaliate after any terrorist attack which leaders in New Delhi immediately blame on Islamabad.
In July 2016, the Pakistan Army claimed to have shot down an Indian ‘spy drone’ in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), in a sign of the decades-old tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours in the disputed region.
“The spy drone was being used for aerial photography,” military’s media wing, ISPR, said.
India believes acquiring the armed drones will send a strong deterrent to any militants across the border. “Once people across know that they can be struck from the air without India thinking too much that there would be a pilot who may get shot down, that sends a deterrent,” Manmohan Bahadur, a retired India Air Force officer and a member of the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi, said.
However, Bahadur stressed that such drones would not “be used as a free for all”. “This border is a contested air space that you’re talking about.”